Tennants Summer Catalogue Sale Report

. July 28, 2008

At the Tennants three-day Summer Catalogue Sale the auction house was packed throughout and a record (for a Summer Sale) £1.7million hammer price was realised. Buyers from as far away as Shanghai boosted the international interest in the auction which helped to dispel the fears of a major ‘slow-down’ in consumer spending.

The fact that rare objects were making exciting prices and yet many lots were proving you can buy antiques at a price more attractive than modern pieces on the high street, all combined to give confidence to a trade that has had despairing press in some quarters of late.

The highlights of the sale included the Michael Webb Collection, the Mouseman library furniture from Leeds Girls’ High School and a remarkable collection of big game trophies formed by Monsieur et Madame Henrijean from Belgium.

The principal furniture prices included £24,000 for lot 1668, a George III mahogany chest of drawers from the mid-18th century and another, lot 1676, of a more simple design which sold for £9,200 proving that brown furniture is not dead!

The Mouseman furniture from Leeds Girls’ High School totalled over £244,000 including £18,000 for the kneehole desk (lot 1759), single chairs up to £2,300 each and 4ft 6in tables up to £7,000; a set of six slat back chairs averaged £3,800 per set.

Tennants always has a strong picture section and again many 18th and 19th century canvases bucked the trend against ‘modernist’ paintings and were highlighted by lot 1309, a portrait by Jonathan Richardson Snr. (1665-1745) of the squire, Thomas Boothby of Tooley Park, Leicestershire, who was the first Master of the Quorn Hunt, which sold for £16,000; lot 1323, a panoramic view of the New Forest, Hampshire by Patrick Nasmyth (1787-1831) sold for £7,000 and a Victorian watercolour landscape (lot 1168) by William Henry Millais (1828-1899) in North Devon went for £19,000. From the Michael Webb picture collection, lot 1121, a group of eleven black and white etchings by Graham Sutherland (1903-1982) realised £17,000.

The Sporting and Natural History section saw every telephone line booked, and the auctioneer’s sheets filled with commission bids resulting in strong competition for all but 4 of the 226 lots. Top prices were for lot 1099, a 1933 Black Rhino head from the Keita River, Kenya Colony at £29,000 (believed to be a world record price) and lot 1004, a Polar Bear from Resolute Bay, Canada at £11,500. All taxidermy specimens are sold strictly under ‘Taxidermy Law’ and Cites and other international licences where applicable.

The ever popular Derbyshire Blue John was one of the highlights of the Works of Art section with lot 865, a small pair of pedestal urns and covers, realising £6,200. The Trading Standards Service Northumberland County Council Collection of Weight and Measures dating from the 19th century totalled £24,000 for the 15 lots.

Small can be beautiful and in the case of a miniature Faberge Russian silver, gold and enamel scent bottle (3.2cm long) keen bidding forced the price to £21,000 against a £5,000 to £8,000 estimate – clear evidence that the market is shifting rapidly westwards!

Despite a jewellery section filled with traditional diamonds, emeralds and sapphires, one of the most sought after pieces was an Art Nouveau opal and pearl necklace which was finally ‘knocked down’ at £5,000. In the silver section the ‘small collectables’ were likewise cherished and a Victorian card case depicting Brighton Pavilion realised £4,500 as did lot 595, a Victorian Trophy Bowl (106oz) although bearing an inscription.

Perhaps the most surprising trend in the sale was the huge interest in English Ceramics, highlighted by a group of Creamware teapots, two examples of which (from the Leeds Pottery circa 1770) realised £9,500.

For full sale results visit www.tennants.co.uk

Category: Auction News

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